Rep. Elijah Cummings blasts Trump administration for creating "false crisis" at the border

Rep. Cummings: Trump created "false crisis"

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, says that the Trump administration has created a "false crisis" at the U.S. border with its "zero tolerance" policy, which has sparked nationwide debate over the treatment of immigrants crossing the border illegally. Cummings, who admonished the administration's policy at a hearing on Capitol Hill this past week, says Democrats want immigration policies to be "humane."

"We want to make sure that these families are reunited after the president created this false crisis, and we want to get these families back together again," Cummings told "Face the Nation" on Sunday. "We want to get rid of this zero tolerance policy that has been announced by the president."

President Trump signed an executive order last week to keep families together, but said his policy of criminally prosecuting immigrants for crossing illegally would continue, despite a 20-day limit on how long children can be detained with their parents.

"We want to make sure ... people are given an opportunity to pursue and legally pursue an opportunity to be a part of the United States of of America," Cummings said. The Democrat blasted the administration for "cutting off" immigrants' ability to seek asylum with its border policies. 

Cummings said that, as a result of the family separation issue, "we're placing kids -- and, by the way, kids who will be harmed for the rest of their lives and that's by the way child abuse -- we're placing them in a bad situation." He added that the "urgency right now is to get these young people back with their parents."

On Saturday, the Department of Homeland Security detailed its plans to reunite families who have been separated since the policy was announced in April. It said that more than 500 children in the custody of Customs and Border Protection had been reunited with their parents, a figure that does not include the more than 2,000 children held in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Cummings also criticized the rhetoric surrounding the immigration debate and blamed Mr. Trump for setting a harsh tone. 

"Since he's become president, and even before, he's basically given people license to state things that are ugly and those things then turn into actions, as we can now see," Cummings said. "We've got to get away from this and we've got to concentrate on what is important at this moment. He's got to be more competent. Even the policies that he likes he's not been very good at executing, and so we've got to find a way to address that."

  • Emily Tillett

    Emily Tillett is a politics reporter and video editor for CBS News Digital